|NOVEMBER 1997||PUBLISHED BY AMERICANS FOR A SAFE ISRAEL|
A New Mood
on Capitol Hill
The delegation from Americans For a Safe Israel that visited Capitol Hill in late September (together with the Religious Roundtable, the Christians' Israel Public Affairs Committee, and Women in Green, all member-groups of the Alliance for Israel) found a markedly different attitude towards Israel, the PLO, and the Oslo accords. The new mood bodes well for Israelif the Israeli government recognizes the changed situation and acts accordingly.
Six months earlier, when we visited Washington, most Congressmen were still embracing the Oslo accords as the path to Mideast peace. But by September, the bloody reality of Palestinian Arab terrorism was staring Congress in the faceand not just Hamas bombings. Early in the summer, a group of PLO police officers were caught on their way to carry out a terrorist attack, and they confessed to having carried out a recent drive-by shooting aimed at a car in which the rabbi of Elon Moreh was riding. Israeli investigators found that the policemen were acting on orders from a senior PLO police official, Ghazi Jabali, and asked the PLO to extradite him; as usual, the PLO ignored the request.
Then came the Jerusalem marketplace bombing, which killed 16 Israelis. Depite the slaughter, Arafat refused to arrest or disarm Hamas. A few weeks later came the Ben-Yehuda street bombing. Five more Israelis dead, almost 200 injured. Arafat's response? A few token arrests, and the shutdown of a Hamas kindergarten. The Clinton administration continued to claim that Israeli housing construction was the real obstacle to peace, but on Capitol Hill, it was becoming obvious that the real problem is Oslo itself.
During our September mission to Washington, more than 40 of us discussed the dangerous situation that Oslo has created, in over 100 meetings with Senators, Representatives, and Congressional aides, including four members of the crucial Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the chairman of its subcommittee on the Middle East, Senator Sam Brownback of Kansas. We pointed out that Israel has withdrawn from strategic territory and lost much of its counter-terror capabilities in
Judea, Samaria and Gaza, since its operations in those areas are restricted and its network of informers has been eliminated. We stressed that Israel had taken these risks on the assumption that the PLO would fight the terroristsonly to find that the PLO is still the ally and protector of the terrorists. PLO policemen are even participating in the terror. The inevitable result, should Oslo go forward, will be an irredentist PLO-Hamas state on Israel's jugular, threatening the stability of the entire region.
We also emphasized that the State Department's irrational focus on Israel and the PLO was ignoring other important regional developments that threatened U.S. interests in the Middle East, such as the military buildup and development of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons by Syria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and Libya. And we expressed our concerns about the Clinton administration seeking trade benefits for terror-sponsoring regimes such as Syria, Sudan, and Iran. We said that the time has come for a reappraisal of American interests in the Mideast, and a reshaping of U.S. policy there to focus on fighting the terrorists, isolating and penalizing the pro-terrorist regimes, and strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance.
Our message was warmly received. Many leading Senators and Representatives are fed up with Oslo. And they reject the Clinton administration's constant attacks on Israeli housing construction activities. Indeed, shortly after our visit, 11 prominent Congressmen, led by Rep. James Talent of Missouri, signed a letter to Secretary of State Albright affirming "that Jewish Israelis have the right to live anywhere in the land of Israel" and rebuffing the administration's implication "that Jewish citizens
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November 1997 - 1 - Outpost